Double Impact Initiative Addresses Food Insecurity and Young Adult Homelessness in Boston-Area Communities

Throughout its 143-year history, Community Work Services has addressed the roots of poverty through employment, education, and housing improvements. Today CWS is bringing that same vision to bear on the crisis of homelessness and food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CWS’ recent Double Impact Initiative with Breaktime, a youth-led nonprofit and social enterprise, has a twofold purpose– to help young adult homeless acquire job skills and economic stability, and to create meals for first responders and food-insecure participants in Boston-area communities in crisis.

The partnership has already had an impact, hiring and training 10 young adults experiencing homelessness, most of whom are people of color, and producing nearly 30,000 meals, mainly for communities of color such as Everett, Chelsea, Dorchester, and Roxbury. The program aims to serve people experiencing homelessness, first responders, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities to ensure that everyone has access to the nutrition they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The need is acute. Amid a nationwide surge in food insecurity, one in seven residents and one in five children in Massachusetts will experience food insecurity, the second highest rate in the nation for increased risk of food insecurity among children.

CWS has also launched 10 new nonprofit partnerships to map out food insecurity and young adult homelessness in neighborhoods across Boston, and strengthened its focus on the intersections between race, homelessness, hunger, and unemployment.

The Double Impact Initiative is part of Rising to the Challenge, an initiative launched by the City of Boston in November 2019 to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness. It is funded by the Boston Resiliency Fund, which coordinates fundraising and efforts to provide essential services to city residents who are most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and by MassHire Metro North Workforce Board that supports youth career and training services with funds from the U.S. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

“CWS has always been devoted to helping individuals achieve a level of financial security and economic wellbeing through employment,” said Craig Stenning, CWS Executive Director. “We are incredibly grateful to have received support from the City of Boston’s Resiliency Fund.”